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The Red and the Black (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 24, 2002
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About the Author
After the fall of Napoleon, he retired to Italy, adopted his pseudonym and started to write books on Italian painting, Haydn and Mozart, and travels in Italy. In 1821 the Austrian police expelled him from the country, and on returning to Paris he finished his book De l’amour. This was followed by Racine et Shakespeare, a defense of Romantic literature. Le Rouge et le noir was his second novel, and he also produced or began three others, including La Chartreuse de Parme and Lucien Leuwen. None of his published works was received with any great understanding during his lifetime.
Beyle was appointed Consul at Civitavecchia after the 1830 revolution, but his health deteriorated and six years later he was back in Paris and beginning a Life of Napoleon. In 1841 he was once again recalled for reasons of illness, and in the following year suffered a fatal stroke. Various autobiographical works, Journal, Souvenirs de l’egotisme and La Vie de Henri Brulard, were published later, as his fame grew.
Roger Gard was educated at Abbotsholme School, Derbyshire, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Before his death in 2000 he was Emeritus Reader in English at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Among his publications are books on Henry James, Jane Austen and the teaching of fiction in schools. He also translated Alfred de Vigny’s The Servitude and Grandeur of Arms, and edited Henry James’s A Landscape Painter and Other Tales, The Jolly Corner and Other Tales and a selection of his literary criticism, The Critical Muse, for Penguin Classics.
Top Customer Reviews
Stendahl believed that bourgeois society rules dominate, and all one can do is try to succeed within it, and do what one must in order to move up. We see that manifested directly with Julien. He hates the world that has created him, yet he has no other choice but to act according to its rules. Social mobility hinges on flattery and calculation.
Why must Julien abide to these rules? Love. His love for women of high society chains him to the dictums of these very patricians. Ironically, this love is reflective of his values. Yet, in the end, he must sacrifice the values that have made his love possible. As we see, Julien hates himself because he must sacrifice his principles for the sake of love, which becomes in the process essentially meaningless.
This is a tale replete with splendid imagery, charming dialogue, and quick wit. It's a sad state of our times when books like "Catcher in the Rye" are conferred with the status of speaking for our generation. Books like "Red and Black" hit home harder, although roughly 200 years old. This book is truly timeless. I agree with the reviewers who claim that this book must be read twice in order to be appreciated. A veritable masterpiece!
The Red and the Black first caught my attention 25 years ago in January 1983; a stack of copies were set out on a table in the Tattered Cover Bookshop, Denver (then on 1st Avenue in the Cherry Creek area). At that time, the Penguin edition was a new translation to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author, Henri-Marie Beyle, January 23, 1783. I don't know how or why I decided to buy a copy; maybe it had something to do with the brief review on the back cover, which was perhaps then as it is now: "Handsome, ambitious Julien Sorel is determined to rise above his humble provincial origins." Maybe I saw something of Julien in myself, or maybe like Mathilde de la Mole, I was looking for a life outside the script dictated by parents and society, or trying to find a world beyond materialism and utilitarianism, something inspirational and possibly Romantic. It was with this novel that I first realized that a writer could communicate intimately across centuries; I fell in love with Stendhal. I wanted to know about his life. He wrote with integrity; he wrote what he knew to be true about life, and he did not let the marketplace dictate what he should write. Beyle was a human being first, then a writer.Read more ›
Julien Sorel, Stendhal's protagonist, is just such a young peasant. The son of a boorish sawmill operator in the Jura region, he develops his remarkably quick mind by studying Latin and philosophy with the local priest (his first mentor and one of the most sympathetic characters in the book) and becomes an abbé, the first step towards entering the priesthood himself. First, however, he takes a job as tutor to the children of M. de Rênal, the local mayor, who employs him mainly to boost his status in the community. Julien is young and very pretty, and Mme. de Rênal takes an interest in him that soon becomes much more. But such idylls cannot last; by the end of the first book, Julien has embraced the ascetic life of the seminary in Besançon, where his abilities evoke the hostility of his mediocre companions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Julien is an ambitious young man thrown into society. He steadily gains success, but in the end he gets in his own way by committing an unthinkable act. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Megan
First off, I am a great fan of Balzac, Zola and 19th century French literature in general. This was my first and probably will be my only Stendhal book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by An avid reader
Stendhal is one of the "true priests" who speak to the "happy few".
One of the best things I've read.
This is a very hard book for me to rate. I really love some parts of the book but others I found not just boring but even distasteful. Read morePublished 17 months ago by MechPebbles
This book moves incredibly slow with its characters sometimes changing up traits throughout the book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Frithe13th
This novel had been on my "to-read" list for a long time and now I've read it i'm appalled that I didn't read it sooner. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Lewis Woolston
So said the Frenchman who recommended this to me. Now it's one of my favorites too. I love how Stendhal takes care to not offend the Parisian ladies.Published 21 months ago by Justin Wollenberg